$60 billion plan aims to boost African American homeownership
Wells Fargo’s commitment to increase African American homebuying aims to create 250,000 homeowners by 2027 and boost diversity in its mortgage sales team.
Randy Camp needs a quiet spot to think and create the characters, plots, and heroes that live in the novels he writes. Now, in the peaceful solitude of his new home, the author has found a creative oasis.
After years of moving and renting, he recently became a first-time homebuyer at age 55.
“It feels good,” said Camp, a resident advisor at a youth services agency in Des Moines, Iowa. “There’s this idea of ‘this place is yours, so now make sure you take care of it and enjoy it.’ I also did it for my children. As I get older, I realize the importance of leaving an asset for them.”
In an effort to make homeownership dreams a reality for others like Camp, Wells Fargo has launched a 10-year diversity initiative to provide $60 billion in home loans, supporting at least 250,000 African American homeowners by 2027. As part of the plan, the company also intends to significantly increase the diversity of its mortgage sales force.
Working with the National Urban League and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Wells Fargo announced the initiative Feb. 28 at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
“Wells Fargo is the first financial institution to acknowledge publicly African Americans’ wealth-building potential, which could be greatly improved through homeownership,” said Ron Cooper, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. “This initiative represents a solid and meaningful start for more African Americans to become homeowners.”
The company aims to help reverse the decreasing homeownership rate in the African American community, said Brad Blackwell, head of housing policy and homeownership growth strategies for Wells Fargo.
He noted company research indicates the desire for homeownership is strong among African Americans, but their purchasing rate lags behind the rest of the population. Even so, the U.S. Census Bureau projects African Americans will represent the third-largest segment of new households by 2024, he said.
“Based on those figures, Wells Fargo sees an opportunity to work with key housing and civil rights organizations to make responsible homeownership possible for more African Americans, and increase economic prosperity in our communities,” he said.
Blackwell added that the company also plans to invest $15 million in a wide range of initiatives that promote financial education and counseling for African American homebuyers over the next 10 years. The company will also boost its recruiting, hiring, and retention of African American home mortgage officers, he said.
Ramone Durden, an African American team member who is new to Wells Fargo’s mortgage team, said he hopes to help others experience what he has through homeownership.
“Homeownership is a life-changing moment for people, and you get to be a part of that,” said Durden, a mortgage sales supervisor in Decatur, Georgia. “You feel like your job actually means something.”
Several customers told him they were the first in their families to own a home, he said, and one customer “sent me a picture of her three kids, with the words, ‘These are the lives you’ve changed forever.’ Those are the times you realize the impact homeownership has on people.”
For Camp, the homeownership process started when he walked into his nearby Wells Fargo branch and told banker Colleena Snider, “I think I’m ready to buy a home.”
Snider referred him to Richard Cook, a home mortgage consultant who described Camp as a dream customer. “Randy was completely engaged in the process and getting us everything we needed in terms of documentation,” said Cook. “He had prepared himself for homeownership.”
Camp said Cook and mortgage processor Liesa Engel helped him navigate the homebuying process and use yourLoanTrackerSM, an online tool for uploading documents and tracking the progress of the loan. He also credited his realtor Lisa Howard for helping him find the right house.
Camp’s arrival in his new home capped off an eventful year that included receiving his associate’s degree and starting a new job at the Youth Emergency Services & Shelter in Des Moines. He said the job allows him to continue his lifelong passion of helping and uplifting young people — also a goal of his writing, which often features heroic youngsters.
Camp said he is now working on his next project while enjoying the ambience of his new home.
“I really enjoy the serenity of this house and the backyard,” he said. “It’s perfect for me. As far as where I am right now in my life, I have no regrets. Everything has just fallen into place.”